An intense blast has unleashed horror at the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza, where the Hamas-run health authority has claimed more than 50 people have been killed and 150 wounded by an Israeli strike.
Buildings have been levelled in the densely-populated neighbourhood, opening up huge sinkholes, with residents likening it to an earthquake and saying that the ground began to collapse around them.
Pictures show apocalyptic scenes, with scores of distraught onlookers gathered around two vast craters which some clambered into as they desperately searched for any survivors.
Meanwhile, dozens of white body bags have filled up the nearby streets, awaiting burial at the hospital near the encampment. Israel’s Defence Forces have said they are looking into the incident.
‘More than 50 martyrs and around 150 wounded and dozens under the rubble, in a heinous Israeli massacre that targeted a large area of homes in Jabalia camp in the northern Strip,’ a Gazan health ministry statement said.
If confirmed, the number will increase an already mounting death toll in Gaza – which Hamas earlier declared had topped 8,525. The majority of those killed are thought to be civilians.
Jabalia is the largest of the besieged enclave’s eight refugee camps and is densely populated – with 116,000 refugees registered there and residents forced to live in crammed, substandard conditions, according to the United Nations.
Pictures show scores of onlookers gathered around two vast craters, which some ventured into as they desperately scrambled to find any survivors
Palestinians search for casualties at the site of alleged Israeli strikes on houses in Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip
Meanwhile, dozens of white body bags have filled up the nearby streets, awaiting burial at the Indonesian hospital near the encampment
A distraught father carries an injured child as dust fills the air following attacks on the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza
Palestinians search for casualties after houses in the Jabalia refugee camp were hit in the northern Gaza Strip
Gutted buildings are barely standing after a blast ripped through the Jabalia refugee camp
Palestinian residents of the camp carry casualties through the charred remains of buildings
Aerial photographs show scenes of utter devastation with high rise buildings ripped apart and flattened
Horrified onlookers gather around a huge crater in the Jabalia refugee camp, northern Gaza
A screen grab captured from a video shared online shows people conducting search and rescue operation under the debris of a destroyed building
Pictures of the site show apocalyptic scenes as distraught onlookers and rescuers enter a sinkhole to desperately dig through the rubble for any survivors
Numbers released by Hamas cannot be independently verified. However, journalists on the ground in Jabalia have reported seeing dozens of bodies, with more expected to be trapped under the rubble.
Aerial photographs show scenes of utter devastation with high rise buildings ripped apart and flattened, with only charred debris remaining where they once stood.
Agonised cries filled the dusty air as volunteers clawed through the concrete blocks and twisted metal in a desperate search for survivors and bodies.
Ragheb Aqal, a Jabalia resident, described the blasts as ‘an earthquake’ which shook the entire refugee camp.
‘I went and saw the destruction… homes buried under the rubble and body parts and martyrs and wounded in huge numbers,’ the 41-year-old told AFP.
‘There’s no exaggerating when they talk about hundreds of martyrs and wounded.
People were still ‘transporting the remains of children, women and elderly’, he added.
A spokesperson for the Palestinian Red Crescent told Al Jazeera that emergency workers are still desperately trying to transfer casualties to hospital following the attack.
According to the UN, the camp is overcrowded and those living there have poor living conditions.
‘Shelters are built in close proximity to one another and there is a general lack of recreational and social space. In many cases, residents have had to add extra floors to their shelters to accommodate their families. Often, these lack proper design. Many live in substandard conditions,’ it says.
It comes after authorities in the Gaza Strip said the death toll had risen to 8,525 since Israel launched its bombing campaign on October 7, which would mean, as over recent weeks, that hundreds were killed in overnight raids.
Israel today said it has killed ‘dozens’ of Hamas terrorists during ‘fierce’ fighting ‘deep’ inside Gaza with video showing soldiers scouring the streets for the gunmen amid raging battles.
Israel said its forces had fought Hamas gunmen inside the militants’ vast tunnel network today, attacking Hamas positions in a bid to free hostages trapped there.
An Israeli tank is seen pushing through Gaza amid Israel’s ground invasion on Tuesday
Israel is expanding ground operations inside Gaza to wipe out Hamas following its gun rampage three weeks ago that killed over 1,400 people.
In the fifth day of major ground operations inside northern Gaza, the army said it had engaged in ‘fierce battles’ with Hamas terrorists, with footage showing columns of tanks and soldiers advancing further into the besieged enclave.
The IDF said its forces ‘struck a Hamas terrorist outpost’ in the northern Gaza Strip in the last few hours where they killed ‘dozens’ of gunmen and destroyed anti-tank missile launch and observation posts.
Israeli troops are seen ‘deep’ within the territory of the Gaza Strip
Video released by the IDF shows Israeli troops walking through the bombed out streets of northern Gaza while raising their guns at the destroyed buildings – ready to pounce at any movement of Hamas terrorists potentially hiding within.
The army said it had hit around 300 targets and confiscated ‘numerous weapons’ such as guns and bombs as well as ‘military compounds inside underground tunnels’ belonging to Hamas terrorists.
The tunnels under the cramped enclave are a prime objective for Israel. Some of the 240 hostages that Israel says were seized by Hamas that day are believed to be held in the tunnel complex, adding a further complication for the Israelis on top of the difficulties of fighting in an urban setting.
In response, Hamas gunmen attacked Israeli forces with machine gun fire and anti-tank missiles. ‘The soldiers killed terrorists and directed air forces to real-time strikes on targets and terror infrastructure,’ the IDF said.
And Hamas terrorists launched nine Grad rockets at the southern city of Ashdod today, leaving four people injured, one of whom is said to be ‘very serious’. Video shows cars engulfed in flames, with black smoke filling the air.
Palestinian children mourn relatives killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, in front of the morgue in Deir al Balah on Tuesday
A Palestinian man from al-Badrasawi family carries the body of his child who was killed in Israeli strikes, at Shuhada Al-Aqsa hospital in the central Gaza Strip on Tuesday
The fighting came after Netanyahu on Monday evening slapped aside a call from 120 countries for a sustained humanitarian truce, saying such a ceasefire would be ‘surrendering’ to Hamas.
‘This will not happen,’ the premier said, vowing Israel would ‘fight until this battle is won’. ‘Calls for a ceasefire are calls for Israel to surrender to Hamas,’ he said.
Israel launched the war on October 7 in retribution for Hamas-led raids on Israeli homes, farms and villages that killed an estimated 1,400 people, according to Israeli officials.
More than three weeks of massive and sustained Israeli aerial bombardments have been followed by a large-scale ground offensive inside Gaza.
On Monday, witnesses said Israeli forces targeted Gaza’s main north-south road on Monday and attacked Gaza City from two directions. They said they saw ‘dozens’ of Israeli tanks operating on the southern outskirts of Gaza City.
Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli military spokesman, said ground operations are focused on northern Gaza, including Gaza City, which he said was the ‘centr of gravity of Hamas.’
‘But we also continue to strike in other parts of Gaza. We are hunting their commanders, we are attacking their infrastructure, and whenever there is an important target that is related to Hamas, we strike it,’ he said.
Israel’s military also released images of mechanized units grinding through coastal sands in northern Gaza. Video also shows soldiers walking across an open area as heavy gunfire echoes in the background and setting up a position in the ruins of a heavily damaged building.
They claimed an early victory: the rescue of one missing woman soldier from Hamas captivity.
The release of Private Ori Megidish, 19, was ‘secured during a ground operation’ inside Gaza the army said, adding she was now in Israel, reunited with family and was ‘doing well’.
Israeli soldiers gather near the border with Gaza before entering the Palestinian enclave on Tuesday amid ongoing battles
‘She has provided intelligence that we’ll be able to use for future operations’ said army spokesman Jonathan Conricus. ‘We are committed and determined to get all of the 238 hostages that are still inside Gaza,’ he added. The IDF has since increased the number of hostages to 240.
But the toll of Israel’s war in Gaza has sparked a global backlash.
Conricus said some 800,000 people have heeded the Israeli military’s orders to flee from the northern part of the strip to the south. But tens of thousands of people remain in and around Gaza City, and casualties are expected to mount on both sides as the battle moves into dense, residential neighbourhoods.
According to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry, Israel’s relentless bombing campaign has killed 8,306 people, including 3,457 children, since October 7.